tv The Communicators CSPAN January 18, 2014 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
on the job -- book club to enter the chat. >> c-span. brought to you as a public service by your cable -- >> joining us for our conversation this week on "the communicators" is the senior republican on the federal communications commission, ajit pai. commissioner pai, this is the week that the net neutrality decision came down and part of your response to this -- i will read it to our audience and have you expand a little bit. >> that is my statement. first, peter, thanks for having me back. my statement signified what i
think is a clear signal from the courts that the fcc exceeded its authority to regulate the internet. the better course would be to let congress clarify what the fcc's authority in this space should be. i think we should focus on what i think are the bigger priorities which are incentivizing the deployment of broadband infrastructure and creating greater incentives for innovators and entrepreneurs to do what they do best which is to create cutting edge operations. >> didn't the decision to leave the door open for regulation on the internet by the fcc? >> i am still parsing the opinion. the better course, even at the fcc has the option of moving forward with internet regulation, would be to stay its hand and let congress take the lead.
>> the new chair of the fcc, tom wheeler, here is a portion of his statement -- >> i think the chairman has put it well in another context when he said the great thing about this space is that it is very dynamic and innovative. from a regulatory perspective, he is applying that we need to allow different business models to flourish. this is not an area where we have clearly established relationships. i share that view of restraint and i think the agency acts best when it allows things to work -- develop organically and if there is a competitive problem that has to be remedied, then we can address that particular problem.
>> how significant is judge silverman's dissent in this case? >> i think the judge focused in part on section 706. i think the core of his dissent was his agreement was that the two primary net neutrality rules that were struck down should have been struck down. >> joining our conversation is an associate editor at communications daily. >> you said you liked the commission to let things play out with that but if the commission did try to reclassify the internet as a title ii service, would that be politically sustainable? >> there are some who argue there should be a back to the future solution to internet regulation. in looking at this innovative dynamic, we should apply the outdated 19th-century railroad style of regulations.
the key for us if we want to incentivize broadband is to have a forward thinking approach that leaves behind some of the heavy-handed economic regulations of the past and recognizes the marketplace for what it is today which is one of competition. companies competing to provide the same service. if we do that, i am confident the ecosystem itself will take care of the problem without the need for regulations from the fcc. >> proponents of net neutrality rules compare the internet to a utility like electricity. why shouldn't it be treated that way? >> that is the sentiment that motivates this 19th-century railroad regulation because that is exactly what motivated the common carrier regulations that
eventually became the core of title ii of the communications act. if you look at what the broadband marketplace is like today, we are seeing one of the most striking technological shifts in history in terms of the network revolution. there are no longer silos where telephone companies provide voice service, cable companies provide video service, wireless services provide wireless service and never do they all meet. now you have companies competing directly against each other. my telephone company is my video provider. cable companies now are significantly making inroads on telephone companies marketshare when it comes to voice. in terms of broadband, a vast majority of people have a number of different choices. because of that, there was no reason to see any particular broadband provider as a utility. if there is a particular example of one company that is engaged in any competitive conduct, that is an antitrust problem. looking at the system globally, it is hard to argue that this is not an innovative area where we
should just deem a one company or a group of companies essentially regulated utility. >> could this decision lead to higher costs for consumers? >> i don't think it will. we will allow for companies to experiment with different business models which will serve the consumer well. before the net neutralilty decision was rendered in 2010, what you saw in the development of the internet was a very vibrant, open system in which broadband providers and content providers were competing against each other to deploy network and applications respectively. i am pretty optimistic that given how innovation always has a way in this field that it will continue to be the case. >> do you see this could become -- how do you see this play out in the next year? >> i don't have a crystal ball and i have not spoken to my colleagues what the likely steps ahead are but my hope is -- we at the fcc restrained the impulse to go further, to
reclassify, and focus on some of the building blocks of the broadband industry which is infrastructure, spectrum, and application development. >> charter went public this week with several offers to buy time warner cable. time warner so far has turned them down pretty strongly. if they found a way to merge, would that make it through regulatory approval? >> i am not in position to comment on a transaction that number one has not been proposed and number two if it is proposed, would require fcc approval. >> what about your general philosophy? >> my general philosophy draws from the public interest standard in the communications act. the question is always will a transaction serve the public interest? i evaluate whether or not there are certain competitive effects that might result and if there are, is there a tailored
condition that the agency could develop that would not have competitive harm. that is the same standard i would apply if it was put before me. >> you have been quoted as saying you didn't think a comcast deal would be approved by the fcc. >> i was saying that recent precedence suggests the that the proposed transaction would have more regulatory hurdles. i wasn't commenting on how i thought the transaction would come out to but i was looking at some of the recent precedence. >> if the comcast merger did come through, would you support extending the merger conditions that still apply to comcast from the nbc merger? >> this is a situation where i have to review the particular facts. i can't say at this point what my decision would be. >> recently the supreme court decided to pick up the aereo case.
before the supreme court took that up, what have you said about them? >> i have said very little about aereo because it is a novel area of the law. the question is of copyright law rather than communications law. i am in the position of being an interested legal observer to see what the court does. >> do you see aereo becoming an fcc issue at some point? >> it certainly could be. the parties involved are also parties where fcc sees regularly. i can see the agency having an involvement in the issue. a some have suggested that way to settle the area of question will be to change the definition so that it encompasses aereo.
would that ever become part of what you guys are doing? as a general matter, my own view, without commenting on a particular case is that we will restrain from applying that classification and the regulations that apply under it under title vi of the communications act two companies that are not using business models. that is a separate question. i tend to be a little more hesitant. >> have you made a comment on cell phones and airplanes? i certainly don't want someone talking next to me that when i am several thousand feet up in the air. >> what about texting? a separate matter.
that is part of the issue the commission will have to figure out whether any kind of communication transmission can be sustained up in the sky. >> let's talk about broadcast. the media bureau recently approved the local merger on its own delegated authority and there have been a couple of big issues that have been decided like with verizon. how do you feel about those big transactions being handled? >> if the proposed transaction involves a novel question of fact or law, it is important for the commission to weigh in on it. under our rules, the commission has to weigh in on it. it is important for all commissioners to be on the as to the agency's valuation of a transaction.
it gives the decision more legitimacy if the public can know all commissioners who have been nominated by the president have to make their policy views known. in this particular case, if there isn't a novel question involved, as a matter of principle it is appropriate. the orderrted that was originally circulated as a commission vote. the sinclair merger is still sitting out there. should that be handled at the bureau level? >> you prejudge the procedural decision. i will say as a general matter to the extent of the sinclair transaction or any transaction that involves a novel question or a challenging question, the commissioner will ultimately be accountable for it.
>> a report attacked the sharing arrangements that are involved in those transactions. there is a way to get around the fcc rules. do you think the commission to change those rules or are they going to change soon? >> i personally do not believe that the agreements pose a threat to consumers or are anti-competitive. they have significant competitive value especially at smaller but market -- at smaller market. wichita,t cities like a shared agreement might be the best way for a news operation to consolidate some of the upfront costs of maintaining an operation and focusing on what they really want to cover which is local news. we have seen evidence of it. companies to pour
money into a doppler radar, for example, were a company was able to save millions of dollars which is then poured into a public safety communications feature. fcc tries is that the to attack a problem that does not exist. we might end up hurting the ability of consumers in most smaller markets to handle information that is vital to them. is theguest this week senior republican on the federal communications commission, ajit pai. we also have the associate editor of communications daily. this is the longest we have gone without using the word spectrum. what is your current thinking and how do you see the schedule? is the fcc on time when it comes to the spectrum option? question the intent of consumer demand has increased
since i became a commissioner. more critical for the fcc to bring more spectrum. it is unfortunate we have not had a major spectrum option since the bush administration in 2008, i am happy to say we are taking the initial first step with the spectrum which will raise money. we are looking at the broadcast and set of options in the longer-term by which television broadcasters would voluntarily relinquish some spectrum. there is a host of other spectrum options when it comes to license by terms. -- spectrums. there is a tremendous opportunity and what is known as the five gigahertz band. this is an area where the commission has teed up the possibility of having up to 195 megahertz available for super wi-fi. the ability to transmit one gigabit of data per second
wirelessly is a real possibility. the technical standard already exists. there are devices that are being launched that incorporates radio. that is an area to look forward to. there are exciting possibilities. - not manbloc,k - participants. spectrum getting more in the commercial marketplace? i would say yes. are we raising money for the treasury that can be devoted to the first network? we are. $1.5 billion. are we bringing the spectrum to high valued use? not on our side. we need to get more spectrum in the marketplace and holding that option now is a win for the commission.
>> is the incentive option going to take place in 2015? >> i certainly hope so. 2015 is the target date. take important for us to the right steps necessary for that to be a success. testing and retesting the software and setting up an auction designed that allows everything to work smoothly. 2014,take the steps and we will be in position to hold a successful option in 2015. concernsasters have that the antenna and power industry may not be ready for the amount of work involved in moving the stations around. how should the fcc address that problem and make that industry comfortable with the repacking demands? >> there are a number steps we could take. we need to understand the magnitude of the problem. that was brought home to me when
i was at the empire state building. i got up to the 85th floor and i can see the actual pipes that are used to transmit the broadcast signals. it is not a matter of flipping a switch to repack. those pipes have to be physically moved. if we appreciate the nature of the problem, we will be in a better position. we need to do much more outreach with broadcasters to let them know what exactly the contours of repacking will be. that involves making the software available. it also means understanding the nature of the technical challenge and what the options are for the fcc so they could give us feedback on the smoothest way for repacking. antenna manufacturers have said the problem of getting ready for the repacking has been exacerbated by the modification.
do you agree with their analysis of the situation in which a support dropping the freeze? >> i did have some concern about it when it was first adopted. i would work with my new colleagues and see what the best way for that would be. kaplando you think rick felt it necessary to send out a press release saying this was a voluntary option for broadcasters. is there pressure on the broadcasters to make this not voluntary? >> i certainly hope not. there has been no pressure a long those lines. the statute says this is a voluntary auction and i think part of the reason why i think the fcc should do more aggressive outreach to broadcasters is to let them know there is a proposition on the to takeat they choose part, it might benefit them. >> all these issues we are
talking about beginning with the net neutrality case and the aereo case and the potential mergers. is there pressure coming from different directions for more regulation of wireless? >> i think in some areas there might be but my own view is the wireless market is more competitive than it has ever been. the vast majority of mood -- of americans have a choice of four or more wireless providers. of those companies are competing aggressively against each other in terms of price and quality. i still remember the days when a cell phone meant a brick that was impossible for you to carry on your person, let alone in your park it. smart phones and video transmission devices and gps receivers. market is a success we should celebrate and from a
regulatory perspective, it indicates the view of those in the early 1990's who took a hands-off, light touch regulatory approach and allowed this marketplace to drive the way it has. >> how likely will the fcc put limits on the upcoming auctions? in the termpeculate of percentage but i can say our goal is for the intended option to be a success. one of the metrics of success is to maximize the amount of revenue the auction yields and to increase the amount of spectrum that is available. if we adopt a duly -- unduly strict on limits of spectrum holdings, we are going to preclude a certain carriers from participating at all or l imiting the extent of the participate. that would be a tragedy under any circumstances but especially in the context of the incentives option. not only does the supply and we haveurve have to --
to yield additional revenue for deficit reduction for next generation 911 implementation. i think it would be for hearty for us to limit spectrum holdings in a separate proceeding will me know -- when we know it could impair the success of the auction. >> do you favor smaller licenses? isone of the proposal that put on the table is the idea of partial economic areas. that is an innovative idea that i am looking forward to see developed further. i know some of the rural carriers have made that proposal. it is an idea we should be open to. >> do you but -- do you support the two phase bowlful? -- proposal? >> that is another one.
ncta, michalel powell, testified this week about changing the communications law and whether the 1996 law needs updating. you be game for a big overhaul of communication laws at this point? >> the communications act at this point is not keeping pace with where the marketplace is. advocate istried to the fcc should do what he can to calibrate its regulations to fit the times. we are essentially stuck. we have reached the point given the competition we have seen that the fcc needs to be able to take action to bring its regulations into the 21st century. to reduce the silos that require
us to treat telephone companies and cable companies and wireless companies differently even though they are competing to provide the same service. an update would be very useful. >> couldn't that lead to more regulation of wireless companies may be pushing broadband add -- in? views as tomy own what the fcc should do with respect to that. i would hope that congress would recognize wireless innovation has been the hallmark of that part of the industry and that is a direct result of the agreement let this ecosystem thrive without a common carrier regulation of the type you saw under title ii applicable to telephone companies. >> let's talk about the discount a little bit. reply deadline was this week. you have said it should not be limited and you look at the ownership cap. sources have told me the
ownership cap could never be eliminated under a democratic administration. how do you persuade your colleagues to support that? >> you can't do one without the other. a are linked. getting rid of the discount without altering the cap would simply be bad policy. limit was established at a time where the discounts were taken into account. it is important for us to re-examine at the cap to see whether it is necessary in the interest of competition. >> how should the commission and other grandfathering rule? are you in favor of permanent grandfathering? we should not effectively make the rules applicable now before the fcc has taken final action.
that essentially makes the role a formality. i think the better course would be not to apply until the final report has been adopted. enactedvhs discount is but the ownership cap is not moved, does that address your concerns about getting rid of the discounts? i really wouldn't want to prejudge what the appropriate course would be. >> three consumer issues. sports blackouts -- are we going to see anymore? >> i certainly hope not as a diehard nfl fan. i know it did cause a lot of aggravation for the consumers and i hope the fcc moves with where we have proposed to get rid of the sports blackout rule.
>> does that have to go through congress or can you do that administratively? >> there are steps we can take administratively. we have artie started the process -- we have already started the process. >> you recently made a proposal about 9/11. 11 calls. >> this was a gap in our public safety regulations that was screaming for some type of public awareness. i saw the story on twitter about someone giving me a notice on the issue of twitter and i could not believe this poor little girl had to watch her mother gets stabbed in a texas hotel, dial 911 four times it was not able to reach anybody. her mother died. to me the fact that public safety communications are critical. it got me wondering how common is this problem. i brought in one of the preeminent public safety persons
on this issue and he told me a number of hotels use a telephone french systemste that is not programmed to recognize when someone thousand someone tries to dial 911. that is a situation that needs to be changed. it could be changed in most cases by reprogramming the telephone system. i had an opportunity to speak with the grandfather of the girl who called 911. he nevere that expected this issue to become the national issue it has. he is grateful for the attention that everyone is bringing to it because if one life could be saved by tweaking the existing technology, that is a good thing. and amrt his efforts determined to do whatever i can to raise awareness. have you heard back from the hotel chains? >> i have not yet.
>> why were you not supportive commissioner's push to lower prison call rates. ? shouldought the position not have been sitting around the agency for over a decade. i did put a proposal on the table but we have reduced these rates. we have cut them significantly in 36 states and would've sustained legal criticism. the order thatt, was ultimately adopted was on a very shaky legal foundation. the d c circuit agreed with me. over appreciate you coming to our c-span set and spending a half hour with us. thank you. >> c-span -- created by america's cable companies in 1979. brought to you as a public service by your television
provider. >> next on c-span are series of first ladies continues with a look of the life and times of nancy reagan. >> panelists will talk about the u.s. force of military force. >> to all of you, thank you for your support and to the kids for just saying no. thank you. [applause] my hope is that the women of the future will feel truly free to follow whatever path their